IOC chief Bach: 'Zero' risk of Olympic participants infecting locals

I nternational Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said yesterday there was "zero" risk of Games participants infecting Japanese residents with Covid-19, as cases hit a six-month high in the host city.

"Risk for the other residents of Olympic Village and risk for the Japanese people is zero," Bach said, adding that Olympics athletes and delegations have undergone more than 8,000 coronavirus tests, resulting in three positive cases.

Those cases have been placed in isolation and their close contacts are also under quarantine protocols, he said at the beginning of talks with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto.

Just over a week before the July 23 opening ceremony, Tokyo reported 1,308 new Covid-19 infections yesterday, its highest daily tally since late January.

Postponed last year due to the pandemic, the Olympics have little public support in Japan amid widespread fears about a further spread of the coronavirus.

Critics of the plan to hold the Tokyo Olympics - which were postponed by a year due to the pandemic - submitted a petition yesterday that has garnered more than 450,000 signatures this month, Japanese media reported.

Organisers have imposed Olympics "bubbles" to prevent further transmissions of Covid-19, but medical experts are worried that they might not be sufficiently tight.

A number of infections have emerged among several visiting athletes and people involved with the Games.

An Olympic athlete under a 14-day quarantine period has tested positive in Tokyo, the organising committees' website reported yesterday, without disclosing any details.

Eight members of the Kenyan women's rugby team, who were set to hold a training camp in Kurume in southwestern Japan, were classified as close contacts of a passenger on their flight to Tokyo who tested positive for coronavirus, a city official said.

The eight athletes had all tested negative on arrival at the airport, the official added, and will be staying at an accommodation facility in Tokyo until the Games.

Games organisers have already banned spectators from nearly all venues, and public access to Tokyo's waterfront area will be barred. - REUTERS